“In everything give thanks.” 1 Thess. 5:18
What is gratitude? It is an emotion expressing appreciation and thankfulness for what one has. Regrettably, believers often miss the mark in articulating their gratitude. We more than any need to be more intentional and thoughtful in our expressions of gratitude to God.
“Gratitude is also getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude by counting our blessings and writing letters of thanks, for example. This proactive acknowledgement can increase our well-being, health, and happiness. Being grateful—and especially the expression of it—is also associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.”
Gratitude can be practiced by both believers and nonbelievers. People, in general, are slow in offering gratitude. They will sometimes express gratitude when prayers are answered or catastrophes are avoided. However, even in those special circumstances, individuals are more likely to attribute their good fortune to luck than to God’s benevolence. Gratitude is the “proper response” beneficence or to the generosity and kindness from a benefactor.
In the busyness of living, people take for granted those things God provides through His grace to all mankind: the sun and the moon (Deut. 33:14), the regularity with which the seasons change (Gen. 8:22), and the marvels of created life (Rom. 1:20). They fail to recognize their blessings and therefore fail to express gratitude. However, those who are in Christ are obligated to express gratitude to God for all things especially His work of salvation.
With salvation, believers experience a multitude of blessings, both now and in the future. First and foremost is our deliverance from the power and penalty of sin (Rom. 6:9). This release from our sin nature provides instant access to God the Father (Rom. 5:2). We are given a new identity in Christ, both as children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). As new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we are gifted with the presence of the Holy Spirit who empowering us with the same dunamis power that raised Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19).
Eternal life is God’s special gift to believers. It is a gift that cannot be acquired through works or any other path yet is readily available through belief in Jesus the Christ (John 3:16). At that moment, the believer can experience eternal life through God’s presence, peace, and provision. As heirs of God, believers await their final inheritance reserved for them in heaven, when they return to their true home (1 Pet. 1:3-4).
How is gratitude reflected in your daily faith walk? Do you practice “gratitude” as a spiritual discipline or do you think of it only as Thanksgiving approaches? As believers, gratitude should be engrafted in our spiritual DNA as we daily experience the blessings and promises of God. As we express our gratitude, we share with others our appreciation for what God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. That’s why in everything, we give thanks.